Category Archives: Catholic Sabah

Local bishops urged to make the church’s mission more effective in the lives of the people

JOHOR BAHRU – At the 100th Plenary Session of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB), eleven arch/bishops of the region were urged to “to make the mission of the Church effectively more present in the daily lives of the people entrusted to our care.”

For that to happen, the Church herself must constantly reform and purify herself, said Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia and Apostolic Delegate to Brunei.

He added,  “This is to ensure that nothing stands in the way, hinders or complicates the relationship between the Lord and His people for whom we are shepherds.”

Archbishop Marino, who opened the bi-annual meeting of the CBC, held at Majodi Centre, Plentong on 10-14 July 2017, directed his address to his audience based on the Holy Father’s reflection on reform dedicated to the Roman Curia in December 2016.

The pope said that this logic has been the theological basis or foundation for the reform of the Roman Curia (RC), adding that, “to assure that no one, as a result of the institution or its organisms, would feel removed, distant or even worse unable or impeded to approach the Lord himself.”

First, the Holy Father said, it should be interpreted as “conforming” itself to the Good News, the Gospel, which must be proclaimed joyously and courageously to all, especially to the poor, the least and the outcast (RC).”

The nuncio stressed that the Curia and by extension all institutions of the Church must conform to the signs of the times and to all human achievements, so that, as the Holy Father said, we can “better meet the needs of the men and women we are called to serve.”

Second, the Church structures are understood as assisting the bishop in his office as pastor, and therefore must be guided by an ecclesiology of service and care for the salvation of souls.

Reform then, the nuncio said, requires a sense of conversion and represents a sign of life in the Church, both at the universal level and the local level.

Pope Francis, he said, affirmed that the Curia “is not an immobile bureaucratic apparatus” but something that must always be changed as the Church walks on her pilgrim way.

The same is true for the local offices, structures and even programmes and pastoral approaches. No part of the Church is free from constant evaluation and reform.

To begin with, such institutions must be staffed by people who themselves are renewed and are open to change and conversion and purification. In any institution, “without a change in mentality, efforts at practical improvement will be in vain” (RC).

Simply put, reform, which is based on conformity to the Gospel and an ecclesiology of service for the good of souls, requires “an ongoing personal and structural process of conversion” (RC).

An authentic reform of the structures of the Church makes them more apt to serve the Gospel and the people of God.

After giving the theological/philosophical foundation for the reform, the Holy Father then listed twelve principles that have guided his reform of the Roman Curia, and they are: individual responsibility, pastoral concern, missionary spirit, organisational clarity, improved functioning, modernisation, sobriety, subsidiarity, synodality, catholicity, professionalism and gradualism.

The pope further sub-defined the groups of principles under headings such as personal conversion, pastoral conversion and Christocentrism, which are rooted in His Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel.

The nuncio dwelt at length into the principles of pastoral and missionary conversion, personal and communal conversion, administrative and pastoral approaches, evangelical spirit, Gospel-centred and service-centred, path of synodality, etc (details found in The Joy of the Gospel).

Concluding his address, Abp Marino said it is the hope of Pope Francis that “we will move from remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe.”

He added, “What should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.” – Vincent D’Silva

Over 200 youth attend 5th TIM youth camp

Finding the Sheep – one of the activities organised at the TIMYC, 24-27 June 2017, Kg Kironggu.

INANAM – Over 200 youth attended the 5th Telipok-Inanam-Manggatal Youth Camp (TIMYC) on 24-27 June 2017 at St Catherine Church here.

Out of the 246 participants were some Chinese-speaking youths who joined for the first time.

The theme of the camp was “The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Lk 1:49).

The camp opened with Mass presided by Father Rayner Bisius with Father Paul Lo as the homilist.

In his homily, Fr Lo used the examples of Mother Mary and St Joseph who were chosen by God for His mission, which led them to leave life’s comfort and to face many challenges.

He said that the devil would try to drag us from the Mighty One with many temptations and rewards. Many would fall into temptation due to their own problems. He then gave the example of how Mother Mary lived her life following God’s will without fear and doubt.

He told the youths that life is full of difficulties and challenges, and that we wouldn’t know God’s future plan, but we need to continue to trust and stand with him no matter what lies ahead of us.

Among the activities held were a welcoming session, Lectio Divina, theme-sharing session, screening of Mary of Nazareth movie, various talks by speakers, and compline (night prayer).

Serena Wong guided the youths to know themselves and to know God, the virtue of gratitude, and to identify their own dreams in a talk entitled ‘Who Am I?’

In her session, Franciscan Sister Elizabeth Munggai urged the youths to take Pope Francis’ advice to face the world’s challenges with courage and not to give up in the face of problems. She illustrated her talk with the life of  Mother Mary in following God’s will.

As many of the participants were students,  Dorin Peter introduced the Keep In Touch Always (KITA) programme to help them see the reality of campus life and how it will affect their faith.

The outdoor activities were held in Kg Kitobu, Inanam.  They went there by bus but had to make a two-km trip on foot as well.

At the site, they were given a pack of beans signifying faith. They carried the pack of beans along while  crossing a river, using a rope bridge, prostrating commando style, balancing wood crossing, making a fire using only three matches and building a fortress.

These challenges ended at Kg Kironggu, where they stayed for the night. At Kg Kironggu, the games continued with Finding the Sheep, The Longest and Paper Plane Flying challenge.

A Solidarity Night themed ‘A Night to Remember’ at Kironggu saw each group presenting a bible-based performance in the presence of invited guests and villagers.

All activities in Kg Kitobu and Kg Kironggu were handled by KUK St Michael Kg Kironggu and assisted by the TIM YC organising team.

On the last day, the participants hiked up the Kironggu Hill as early as 5.30 am to go back to St Catherine Church. The hike consisted of a rosary walk led by Kg Kironggu KUK. At the top of the hill, Fr Rayner led the prayer and praise and worship session, followed by breakfast.

Back at St Catherine, the participants attended the closing Mass celebrated by Fr Paul. He urged the youths to appreciate God’s gift to them through the camp. The Mass also saw four young men accepting God’s call to enter the priesthood.

At the closing, a flashback video was screened, alongside the sharing session and filling in evaluation forms. The organising team expressed their gratitude and appreciation to all who have sponsored and helped in the preparation of the camp and during the four-day camp. TIM YC Publication and Documentation Team

Familis FC wins friendly football match over diocesan aspirants

Friendly match between diocesan aspirants and families fc Inanam, 2 July 2017, Padang Wisma Wanita Jalan Tuaran.

KOTA KINABALU – On Sunday afternoon, 2 July 2017,  the diocesan aspirants were invited to a friendly football match with a team from Inanam, team Familis FC, held in Padang A, Padang Wisma Wanita Jalan Likas off Tuaran.

The friendly match was a part of the aspirants’ activities to promote vocation to the priesthood and as outreach to the public.

The team Familis FC comprised footballers with a few members from the State football team and some from St Catherine Inanam football club.

Both teams played well. It was a high-spirited game of skills and endurance as both teams employed their various skills and strategies to score the goals.

Familis FC proved to be stronger as they skillfully weaved through the aspirants’ defenses to score goals for their team. The aspirants fought valiantly and constantly strategised their attacks and defenses.

In the end, Familis FC won the match with the score 9-2 after a long battle.

After the friendly match, both teams exchanged gestures of good sportsmanship and goodwill as brothers-in-Christ.  Timothy G

Sibu Diocese holds inaugural Diocesan Youth Day

A presentation from one of the groups, Sibu Diocesan Youth Day, 6-10 June 2017.

SIBU, Sarawak – Over 200 youth from 12 parishes of Sibu Diocese joined the inaugural Sibu Diocesan Youth Day (SDYD) on 6-10 June 2017 at the Sibu Pastoral Centre Kemunyang here. The five days and four nights

The five-day-four-night programme was attended by youth from various races including Iban, Melanau, Kenyah, and others.

With the theme 4G+ (Green | Grass | Grace | God) “Perfect love drives out fear’’ (1 John 4:18), the youth were given the formation on the Theology of the Body, a session given by speaker Remy Martin Gunsalam of Splendour Project Kota Kinabalu

The programme focused on the original identity, body, sexuality, pure love and reflections on God’s original plan for us. Youths learned the need to go back to their origin, from solitude to unity in order to understand God’s original plan for the human body.

The youth have been called to break the barrier of language, the fear of understanding through various sessions, workshops, and sharing. Most importantly, they learned to let go of their phones and gadgets and all their worries, and learned to put their total trust on God’s original plan. They were also taught the various forms of prayers, participated in games,

They were also taught the various forms of prayers, participated in games, workshops and performances to boost their confidence in speaking. They also learned to share their hardships and weaknesses with one another.

Youths were reminded that humankind is God’s masterpiece, a unique creation, each with different purposes and a gift to one another. They are called to rejoice in their uniqueness in bad times and in good times, called to accept their imperfections, and to be united in their family, community, school and in the society.

Elijah, from Christ the King Church, Bintangor said, “I felt lonely to have only one colour in the 1st workshop, I couldn’t find my true self if I didn’t mingle with others.” For it is only through the sharing of colours and the initiative to ask that one can find oneself.

They also learned that ‘nakedness’ is freedom; free from any desire, free in communication, free in giving and acceptance. Though Adam and Eve were both naked yet they were not ashamed, because they were free; the body and the soul are in harmony with each other. It is sin that destroys the body and soul. Thus the first diabolical plan that Satan did was to create division in family, church community and society. Eventually it brings the culture of  ‘deaths’: D – ivorce, E – uthanasia, A – bortion, T – otal Populations Control, H – omosexuality and S – ex Education.

Youths were given time for reflection and sharing session with religious brothers and sisters. They felt relieved to have someone listen to their problems and struggles. Geraldine Anne from St Alphosus Julau said she thanked God for giving her a companion who helped her to fight her struggles and face it with faith.

Ashley Joyce of Sts Peter & Paul Church, Mukah shared, “This youth day has touched me in many ways that I couldn’t explain. During one-on-one sharing with a companion, I was scared to let someone know the troubles I’ve hidden for so long. But my companion was so accepting and loving so I didn’t hold anything back. I just let go and told her everything. When she prayed over me I could feel the Holy Spirit moving in me through her hands and through her prayers for me. I don’t say that my troubles would immediately disappear but I know I could do this through Him who strengthens me. This has made me feel like I want to be part of the SDYD committee, because I want to reach out and help others too.”

At the closing Mass, Bishop Joseph Hii Teck Kwong emphasised on what God has planted in each person.  He said humans desire unity with one another. Youths are green and pure and they should put on chastity, “Galau” (means preserve in Iban) sex for marriage. He added another two ‘G’ from the original theme ‘4G+’ which is the

He added another two ‘G’ from the original theme ‘4G+’ which is the ‘Galau’ and lastly ‘Go‘ –  to ‘Go’ and share the things they learned from SDYD to the world especially in their own parishes. The next SDYD will be in 2020! Anna Faustina

Kobusak HDC organises health screening and identity card check services

Health screening, Our Lady Queen of Peace Kobusak, 9 July 2017.

KOBUSAK, Penampang – Shortly after the celebration of Mass on 9 July 2017, the Human Development Committee of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church here organised health screening and MyKad (Identity Card) services for the Catholic community of Kg Kobusak.

The health screening was carried out by KOSPEN Nosoob Baru and KOSPEN Kobusak.

These social services were part of the activities carried out in conjunction with the blood donation campaign held in collaboration with Likas Hospital Blood Bank unit. An estimated crowd of 150 people participated in the various programmes.

Despite only nine pints of blood were collected from the campaign held for the first time within the church compound, the organising committee is determined to promote the blood donation drive by planning to provide this service semiannually.

A total of 74 men, women and children aged 12 years and above came forward to have their MyKad (Identity Card) checked. While the majority were relieved to find their basic individual details in correct order, some were surprised to find their Kadazan ethnicity identified as Sino-native.

In view of its objectives to promote a greater awareness and practical action to protect rivers particularly among local communities, CLEAR (Community-Led Environmental Awareness for our River) was hands-on with the community present by displaying skill activity in soap-making using natural products, an interest well taken by the women group.

A personal approach and close cooperation with communities at grass-root level and the Basic Ecclesiastical Communities (BEC) will continue to be among actions identified for future programmes by the organising committee.Jennifer Majalap

Dontozidon LOM organises recollection day on Marian theme

PENAMPANG – Our Lady Queen of All Saints Dontozidon praesidium organised a one-day recollection at Bamboo House in Kg Notoruss on 17 June 2017 with the theme “Sharing the Joy of Faith like Mary.”

The recollection, facilitated by Franciscan Sister Dora Obod, the praesidum’s Spiritual Director, was attended by 32 active and auxiliary legionaries from the praesidia of Our Lady Queen of All Saints Dontozidon, Our Lady of Grace Kg Kopungit and Our Lady of Sorrow Kg Kolopis.

The legionaries reflected on the ‘Magnificat,’ Mary’s song of praise, also known as the Canticle of Mary. They were encouraged to emulate Mary’s life, which is in full union and cooperation with the Holy Spirit, echoing her fiat “I am the servant of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word’.

They were also invited to be open to God, not only to follow the rules, but to be able to love one another and to do the will of God with a clear conviction that God speaks to us.

A few members stepped forward to share their joys, sorrows, challenges and respective ways to remain loyal and to live up to their promise.

Praying with Mary especially in her daily rosary and faithful accomplishing of weekly assignment of works of mercy since 33 years ago, Angeline Hunggim from Our Lady of Sorrow Kg Kolopis testified to the presence and powerful intervention of God in her vocation, family and personal life. – Jennifer Majalap

Stella Maris hosts Mass for 27 Penang visiting clergy

Parishioners and visiting clergy pose for remembrance after Mass, 17 July 2017, Stella Maris Tg Aru.

TANJUNG ARU –  Twenty-five priests and two bishops from Penang Diocese visited Kota Kinabalu for three days for their bi-annual outing programme on 17-19 Jul7 2017. They were led by Bishop Sebastian Francis, The last two years they were in Kuching, Sarawak.

On their first day of arrival, Stella Maris Parish was chosen to be their venue for concelebrating the evening Mass. The ministries and groups of the parish were represented at the Mass and fellowship.

In his homily, presider Bishop Sebastian expressed his opinion on being one united Church in Malaysia.

“Working together towards the success of building God’s kingdom is important,”  the bishop said.

He also said that at the recent Malaysian Catholic Campus Students Day in Penang, there were 900 undergraduates who participated, of whom half were from Sabah.

He added that the nine bishops in Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak and Semenanjung) would meet for the Malaysian Bishops Conference in Sabah this November.

Bishop Sebastian also said that in July 2018, Johor Baru would host a first-ever conference for clergy in Malaysia.

A fellowship followed after Mass, in which parish priest Msgr Primus Jouil was able to join them on his return from his parish visit to Labuan. – Teresa Alberto

Fr Rhobby writes from Rome

Father Rhobby Mojolou, 31, has been sent by Archbishop John Wong to take up a licentiate course in Sacred Scriptures.  From Urbino Rome he writes:

As the parish was approaching the Solemnity of Pentecost, the readings on the last discourse of Jesus during the daily and weekend Masses accompanied me as I prepared to make my exit from parish life.

After three years in the priesthood, God gave me the blessed opportunity to embark on a new journey, which is to go and further my studies. This sounds daunting and people have often asked me how I felt? I could only say that I have mixed feelings – excited, worried and sad. Allow me to explain what I mean.

First of all, I am excited because I have been deemed worthy to undertake such a big task – to seize this once in a lifetime chance to immerse into the Sacred Scripture. To accomplish this, I am required to learn different languages, namely Greek, Hebrew, Italian, and Latin. Besides these, what other languages are there in store for me, I have yet to find out.

For now, I am in Urbino Italy to undergo a 3-month Italian language course. Just to apply for this course through the scholarship of Propaganda Fidei has not been easy. My sincerest gratitude to Archbishop John Wong for having the confidence in me to give it a shot.

Secondly, I am worried because I may disappoint the hopes of everyone, being fully aware of my weaknesses and limitations.

The archbishop has given me assurance during my last meeting with him, that he would continue to pray for me, and has encouraged me to just enjoy my studies and gain as much experience as I could. In short, I am to try my best and God will do the rest.

Having journeyed for the past five years in the parishes of Sacred Heart Cathedral and St Paul Dontozidon, I am confident that all of you will continue to journey with me in prayer and in spirit during my four years’ of studies, as you have always done during my time in the parishes.

Lastly, I am sad because ‘every good thing must come to an end’. With a heavy heart, I have to leave everything behind and embark on this new journey. You may not be with me but we are never apart. I may lose you for now but you are not lost to me. You may be gone but never missing from my heart.

Having been with all of you in these past five years, we have forged a close bond with each other that has given me a keen sense of belonging. There have been ups and downs but they were there so that we could learn to manage them and put our differences aside for the glory of God. Yes, there were arguments and misunderstandings but that is how families are. We “fight” but we reconcile and continue to experience God’s love and mercy.

During the last priests’ recollection in preparation for the Day of Sanctification for Priests, our recollection master quoted Pope Francis being asked about what he enjoyed most before being a pope. He answered that he actually enjoyed being a parish priest, doing parish work.

I reflected on it, ‘what do I enjoy about being a priest?’ Well, I enjoyed having the greatest opportunity to experience God’s love in the people I serve. A priest may not be married but he is not alone. Well, he is practically alone but he is not lonely. As I I have experienced, it has been a joy to serve each and every one of you.

Many say that the Cathedral parish is not an easy parish; that it is a demanding parish. But I was not walking alone; I always have someone to walk with me along the way; someone to always push, encourage and affirm me of my identity as priest; even at my lowest point when I felt I did not prepare well for my homilies, and when I was stressed. God always sent someone to just say, “You are doing well” or “Thank you for the good homily” or “Thank you for being a priest” or “Don’t give up”. These may seem simple but I do appreciate these gestures and I am sure all the other priests also experience these same wonderful moments.

As I penned my thoughts, I have already spent a week or so in Italy. It has been difficult because many priests from all walks of life and from many different countries are also here to study. It is a joy to meet all of them, but also a challenge to communicate with them because of our different languages. Not all could speak English. Some could only speak French, or Chinese, or Spanish, or Italian, or in their own native language. But everyone is eager to learn Italian so that we could really share our thoughts and experience.

Now that I am in Urbino, the place for my intensive Italian course, I am looking forward to experience more of God’s love through my studies. This place is truly amazing. The atmosphere, scenery, architecture, and culture – there is so much to take in for the moment. Words could not express what my senses perceive. Seeing is truly believing.

Someone once shared with me “We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere”.  As I bid “arrivederci” (“goodbye” in Italian) to all, once again I say ‘thank you,’  and please continue to pray for me. Be assured of my prayers for all of you. (7 July 2017)

Veteran EMC shares his experience in the Eucharistic ministry

KOTA KINABALU – Fresh from the re-commissioning of the extraordinary ministers of communion (EMC) during the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ at Sacred Heart Cathedral here on 18 June 2017, Francis Liew, from among the longer serving EMCs (more than 30 years), shared with Catholic Sabah what it means to be a minister of Holy Communion.

There is no more intimate moment in our lives than when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and in return, with love and gratitude, we offer Him ourselves to serve Him present in the assembly by ministering His Body and Blood to our brothers and sisters, Liew said.

In a nutshell, Liew said, our willingness to serve as an ECM not only means our response in living out our baptismal call to serve God by serving His people, but also a commitment to Christ in sharing the teachings and traditions of the Church.

“We also serve by taking Communion to those members who are prevented by sickness, old age, or other causes from taking part in the gathering for Mass, thereby contributing to the unity of the entire worshipping community,” he added.

Recalling his days in the seminary, the EMC felt perhaps his seminary background has provided a familiarity with the liturgical aspects, which led to a better understanding and the required discipline. His days as an altar server too served a purpose.

Notwithstanding that, Liew opined that the periodic reflection, yearly re-commissioning, and reminders of expectations and standards required by the diocese go a long way to enable the ECMs to maintain their faithfulness and commitment in fulfilling their role.

Serving in this role entails the discipline of preparation by prayer and meditation so that “we are able to fulfill the role with reverence that is due to the Lord,”  said Liew.

He fervently believes that the practice of ‘silence’ predisposes the minister to first acknowledge who it is that he is serving, and that “handling the Communion” is not out of the ordinary things he does. – CS

Family Life Commission organises inaugural consultation

Discussion in progress, Family Life Consultation, 7-9 July 2017 BTRC.

BUNDU TUHAN – For the first time, the Archdiocesan Commission of Family Life organised a consultation with all Parish Family Life Committees (PFLCs) in the archdiocese on 7-9 July 2017 at Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre. They were joined by the Keningau and Sandakan PFLCs.

The consultation was held with three objectives:  1) To identify and update the role and function of Family Life Commission and parish Family Life Committee; 2) To update and standardise contents and implementation methods of the Pre-Marriage Course; and 3) To respond to the call of Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis.

It was attended by 132 delegates.

At the Apr 23-26 Episcopal Regional Commission for Family Life meeting in Majodi Centre, Johor Bahru, Pauline Pinso, from the KK Commission said, the challenges identified that are affecting Christian family life are secularisation, Islamisation, including converting to other denominations, and an increasing number of divorces in marriages less than seven years old.

Main facilitator Father Charles Chiew of Keningau diocese said that the focus of the consultation in achieving the three objectives would contribute to the realisation of a proper service structure for family life.

Based on the methodology ‘Experience-Reflection-Action,’ the committee members discussed their role and function based on their current activities. From the discussions, they discovered that the function of the PFLC is geared more towards implementing pre-marriage courses.

In line with the archdiocesan service to families, with emphasis on the pastoral approach as a way to solve issues affecting families, the committee members suggested a number of additional activities to broaden their role and function, servicing not only couples who are getting married, but also offering pastoral care for single mothers, young families, senior citizens, divorced couples, and troubled families.

On the Pre-Marriage Course, the consultation revealed that although all parishes are referring to the same Pre-Nuptial Course book, there are differences in terms of contents and methods of implementation in each parish.

The cause for these differences is pinned down to a lack of specific objectives in each topic (10 topics) of the course, which opens to a variety of interpretation, and ultimately leading to diverse decisions by the committees, including the parish priests.

In response to the finding, the commission would process the combined reports to provide the objectives for each pre-nuptial topic, as well as to improve its contents and methods of implementation. There is also a suggestion to standardise the course to enable it to be used in all three arch/dioceses.

Responding to the question by the committee members about the time frame for the whole process, Sister Suzan Guntabid fsic, head of KK Family Life Commission asked for a lead time of a year or more as she acknowledged that the process would require a longer time frame.

“After taking into consideration your opinions and inputs, the commission will combine the reports. We will sit again to fine-tune the documents, and for this, we propose that all heads of Family Life Committees sit down with us. After that, the commission will make recommendations to the archbishop,” said Sr Suzan.

Sr Suzan also said that this will not be the last consultation, but that communication will be continued. All PLFCs can still voice their opinions and suggestions through the WhatsApp application fronted by the Commission. Linda Edward

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